I have always disliked partings. I dread having to say goodbye. But most of all I hate being the one left behind. Tomorrow, I’ll be saying goodbye to 2016. It’s been a really good year, which could make this a sad parting. But wait! I’m the one leaving—and I’ll be heading straight into a beautiful New Year filled with endless possibilities and new beginnings. That makes it tolerable—even joyful!
With all of this in mind, and knowing this day was coming, I asked our resident book reviewer, Jeff Tompkins, to review a brand new, highly popular book that relates so beautifully to how all of us can make 2017 the best year ever.
SMARTER FASTER BETTER by Charles Duhigg
Reviewer: Jeff Tompkins, Jr.
I can’t be the only one thinking about possibilities in the New Year. For me, it’s with a certain amount of ambivalence, something with which you may identify: We make promises to lose weight, to be wiser with our money and our spending choices; to be more productive in our home and work lives. Promises made without much of a plan. Then, as if on cue, the good intentions fizzle out somewhere in early February.
Having just read Smarter Faster Better—billed to contain the “secrets of being productive in life and business”—I am hopeful that 2017 will be different.
Smarter Faster Better, by The New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit), capitalizes on a unique blend of story-telling, psychology, economics and business acumen to create a fresh look at how choices affect productivity.
Duhigg puts forward eight core concepts (motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, innovation and absorbing data) that on the surface might cause a reader to consider Smarter Faster Better like any other self-help book: guidelines and lofty ideas that fall hopelessly short of achievement.
Instead, Duhigg brings fresh and in-depth thoughts to each core concept together with engaging and real-life stories to demonstrate each one (from behind the scenes interactions of the Saturday Night Live cast and crew and the frustrations behind the making of the Disney movie Frozen, to the ingenuity behind an innovative FBI database, the re-booting of Marine boot camps, and turning around failing schools in poor Cincinnati neighborhoods).
Each story helps the reader get a strong grasp of the concepts and how to apply them to his or her life. Each one points to dilemmas we may never have considered (like how do you mesh huge egos and differing opinions with humor as in the case of Saturday Night Live) to show how we can think and act differently from our perceived norms.
The stories are insightful, entertaining and ultimately effective in discovering how each core concept works and plays out.
With these stories, Duhigg introduces complex ideas in a way the common reader can understand, ideas like psychological safety, cognitive tunneling, cognitive closure, winnowing and others that most of us probably don’t even realize we use in reacting to our world every day.
The book, aided by the crisp examples of the stories interwoven into each chapter, sheds new light on topics that typically get regurgitated over and over—like goal setting or managing others.
Instead of following the herd, Duhigg offers deep yet simple ways to really excel in making and reaching our goals; in motivating ourselves and those we work with, in making informed decisions, in creating effective teams, in taking control of our attention spans; where we focus and in stoking our own creativity.
Taken to heart and applied, these eight core concepts can legitimately assist each of us towards more real productivity and a lot less frustration.
As you may have guessed, this has been one of my favorite reads of the year and a book that I took copious notes and underlined. Already, I am applying the concepts espoused in Smarter Faster Better to my life—both business and personal—to increase my productivity.
For me, the New Year is going to start out differently from years have begun in the past. I am confident that my plans and goals are going to continue strong throughout all of 2017 and beyond, thanks to what I’ve learned by reading Smarter Faster Better and having gained new insights.
Should you be longing to make 2017 different as it relates to things you would like to improve and achieve, I highly recommend that you read Smarter Faster Better. This informative, intelligent and entertaining read will inspire you in the New Year. Or give it as a gift to push someone you know that needs the inspiration. Smarter Faster Better is a “can’t miss.” Without hesitation, I give Smarter Faster Better 5 stars!